Andy Murray wrote his name into the Olympic history books by beating Juan Martin Del Potro to become the first tennis player ever to win two singles gold medals.
On a day of stunning success for Britain, the Wimbledon champion came out on top of a brutal match, winning 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5 after four hours and two minutes.
Murray was already the first man to make back-to-back finals and with victory he eclipsed Steffi Graf, who won the title in 1988 then lost in the final in 1992.
Del Potro stood on the bottom step of the podium in 2012 while Murray soaked up the acclaim of Centre Court but has spent half of the intervening four years trying to recover from a wrist problem that required three operations.
At one stage he doubted he would ever make it back and this run, with victories over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, has again shown how much he brings to the sport, but there was to be no fairytale ending.
So weary was Murray when Del Potro’s final backhand landed in the net that he could barely raise his arms above his head and he engaged in a long, emotional hug with his opponent at the net at the end of a night neither will ever forget.
Afterwards Murray, his eyes red from tears, said: “It means a lot.
“Getting to carry the flag at the opening ceremony was an amazing experience and I was very honoured. I found that quite emotional..
“I had to regroup and get my mind on the matches so, to finish it with a match like that, obviously I was fairly emotional at the end. It’s been a build-up of emotions over the last 10 days and I’m just very happy that I got over the line tonight.
“It was one of the hardest matches I’ve had to play for a big title.
“The US Open I played with Novak to win my first slam was very hard but tonight I found really difficult emotionally. Physically it was hard, there were so many ups and downs in the match.”